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X-POST FROM: NEW YORK TIMES LEARNING NETWORK This lesson plan e-mail service is brought to you by Bank Street College of Education, proud partner of The New York Times Learning Network. Looking for just the right book for a sensational summer read? Bank Street has a list of summertime favorites guaranteed to delight children of all ages! Scroll to the bottom of this e-mail to learn more. ----------------------------- THE NEW YORK TIMES LEARNING NETWORK LESSON PLAN URL:http://www.nytimes.com/learning/ Developed in Partnership with The Bank Street College of Education in New York City TODAY'S LESSON PLAN: MIXED BLESSINGS: Exploring the Separation of Church and State in Patriotic Poetry and BASED ON THE ARTICLE: Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing 'Under God', By EVELYN NIEVES,June 28, 2002 URL: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20020628frida y.html AUTHOR(S): Javaid Khan, The Bank Street College of Education in New York City Rachel Klein, The New York Times Learning Network GRADES: 6-8 9-12 SUBJECTS: American History Civics Fine Arts Language Arts Social Studies OVERVIEW OF LESSON PLAN: In this lesson, students will learn about the recent federal appeals court decision finding the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. They then further investigate the notions of constitutionality and separation between church and state by researching and analyzing another patriotic American poem or song. SUGGESTED TIME ALLOWANCE: 45 minutes - 1 hour OBJECTIVES: Students will: 1. Write a journal reflecting on the text of the Pledge of Allegiance. 2. Learn about the recent federal appeals court decision declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional by reading and discussing the article "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing 'Under God'." 3. In groups, study the text of a patriotic United States poem or song to determine its constitutionality. 4. Write an alternative Pledge or National Anthem that best reflects the character of the United States. RESOURCES / MATERIALS: -pens/pencils -paper -classroom board -copies of the article "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing 'Under God'" (one per student) -texts of patriotic songs (some Web sites include (<a href=http://ingeb.org/songs/godbless.html>http://ingeb.org/songs/godbles s.html</a>), (<a href=http://www.top- greetings.com/cards/299/>http://www.top- greetings.com/cards/299/</a>), and (<a href=http://www.treefort.org/~rgrogan/web/usa1.htm>http://www.treefort.o rg/~rgrogan/web/usa1.htm</a>) ACTIVITIES / PROCEDURES: 1. WARM-UP/DO NOW: Prior to class, write the text of the Pledge of Allegiance on the board. Then have students respond to the following prompt (written on the board prior to class): "Read the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you agree with what it says? If given the choice, would you want to say it in school? Explain your responses." After allowing students a few minutes to write their responses, invite students share their responses with the class. 2. As a class, read the article "Judges Ban Pledge of Allegiance From Schools, Citing 'Under God'", focusing on the following questions: a. What was the decision of the federal appeals court on June 26? b. According to Alfred T. Goodwin, why is the statement "under God" objectionable? What other statements would Judge Goodwin find objectionable? c. What was Ari Fleischer's response to the decision? d. According to Dr. Newdow, what was his daughter forced to do? e. Why are phrases like "In God We Trust" protected from the Establishment clause? f. What were the responses of the Senate and politicians to the decision? g. What has resulted for Dr. Newdow as a result of his lawsuit? 3. Divide students into groups of three, assigning to each a popular patriotic United States song or poem, such as "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," "The Star Spangled Banner," or "Coming to America." Each group acts as a federal appeals court that has had a case presented to it similar to the one in the article. Groups must determine: -- Whether any mentions of God or other religious concepts retain their religious meaning or have had their "significance lost through rote repetition." -- Whether saying or singing this poem or song at a state-sponsored event or location would violate the separation of Church and State. -- Whether the poem or song should be completely banned from state sponsored events and institutions, or whether another course of action would be more appropriate (and, if so, what that course of action might be). In order to determine the answers to the above questions, students should both analyze the text as it reads, and conduct research about the origin of the text itself (Who wrote it? Under what circumstances did he or she write it? Do these circumstances make the text seem more or less "religious"?) Groups vote and write up a one-page opinion explaining their conclusion (if there is a majority and a dissenting vote, each side should write a page long opinion on the case). 4. WRAP-UP/HOMEWORK: At home, students write an alternative Pledge or National Anthem that they think best reflects the United States. Students should not edit the current texts, but write their own original pledge or anthem. (Students need not be discouraged to choose to include religious language if they believe that it is appropriate, despite the recent ruling). In a later class, the class can discuss the different students written texts and vote to recite some of them in lieu of the current Pledge of National Anthem. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: -- Do you recite the Pledge of Allegiance in your school? Do you feel that you are forced to participate? How do you feel about saying it? -- Do you think that most students think about what they are saying when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance? If not, do you think they would feel differently about it if they thought more about the meaning? -- Do you consider yourself religious? If so, do you think that the government should endorse religion? What problems might this cause? -- What is freedom of religion? What activities does the right to freedom of religion protect? What activities do you think should not be protected in the name of freedom of religion? -- Do you think that people have become more patriotic since September 11? Do you think that people have become more religious? EVALUATION / ASSESSMENT: Students will be evaluated on completion of journal, participation in class discussions, participation in group research and discussion, completion of group opinion(s), completion of alternative Pledge or National Anthem. VOCABULARY: spectrum, endorsement, appellate, unanimously, mandatory, impermissible, monotheistic, invocation, rote, appalling EXTENSION ACTIVITIES: 1. Learn about another monumental court case that further defined the separation of church and state. Look for cases dealing with such issues as school prayer, Released Time education, and science education (e.g. creationism vs. evolution in the Scopes Monkey Trial). Reenact a portion of this trial for the class, followed by a discussion of the issues involved. 2. Create an educational cartoon telling the story of how one of the patriotic songs from the classroom activity was written. Make sure to include information about the author, the historical context, and the responses to the publication of the text. Also explain how this text relates to Americans today. 3. School choruses, even in many public schools, often sing liturgical music, since much of the body of classical choral works are religious in nature. Interview your school's choral director about religious content in the music that is chosen for the school's choral performances. Does he or she choose liturgical music for the chorus? If so, what is his or her reason for choosing this music? Also interview members of the chorus. Does it bother them to sing "religious" songs? If they sing in a foreign language, are they concerned that the lyrics might be religious? Write an article for your school paper about your findings. 4. President Bush has recently reinvigorated the phrase "God Bless America." Write a letter to the President sharing your thoughts about this phrase and his decision to use it when speaking to the American public. Some questions to keep in mind as you write are: Do you think it is in the spirit of the separation of Church and State? Do you think that it is important for people to turn to God during difficult times? Why do you think President Bush chooses to use this phrase often at the times that he does? 5. Write a response to the federal appeals court panel on their recent ruling about the Pledge of Allegiance. Explain why you agree or disagree with the ruling. Cite your own feelings as well as factual evidence from other court cases, federal law, or other sources. INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: Global Studies- Research a pledge or anthem of a country other than the United States. Find out the history of the text and learn about how it functions in the county today. Create a poster with the text of the pledge or anthem and an explanation of its meaning and context. Media Studies- Since September 11, there has been a reported increase in popular patriotism, and the phrase "God Bless America" has been invoked as a slogan for this national phenomenon. Create a secular television commercial aimed at inspiring patriotism in United States citizens (without mentioning God or religion in general). Science- Interview both science and religious studies teachers at a parochial school to learn how they balance the teaching of religious doctrine with modern scientific theories and methods. Also interview students to learn how they feel about this dichotomy. Then create a proposal for an integrated science/theology curriculum for the school that attempts to address both points-of-view. Teaching With the Times- Refer to the article "Outrage in an Illinois Town Over Justices' Ruling on Prayer" and the Learning Network lesson that accompanies it (<a href=http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/20000623friday.htm l?searchpv=learning_lessons>http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/les sons/20000623friday.html?searchpv=learning_lessons</a>) to learn about prayer at sporting events. Then write your own "meditation" to be recited at the beginning of your school's sporting events that is religiously neutral. ADDITIONAL RELATED ARTICLES: NATIONAL CONTENT STANDARDS: Grades 6-8 Historical Understanding Standard 2- Understands the historical perspective. Benchmarks: Understands that specific individuals and the values those individuals held had an impact on history; Analyzes the influence specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'hu2') Civics Standard 9- Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs, and principles of American constitutional democracy. Benchmark: Understands how certain values are fundamental to American public life (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Civics Standard 11- Understands the role of diversity in American life and the importance of shared values, political beliefs, and civic beliefs in an increasingly diverse American society. Benchmarks: Knows a variety of forms of diversity in American society; Knows major conflicts in American society that have arisen from diversity; Knows ways in which conflicts about diversity can be resolved in a peaceful manner that respects individual rights and promotes the common good; Knows why it is important to the individual and society that Americans understand and act on their shared political values and principles (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Civics Standard 13- Understands the character of American political and social conflict and factors that tend to prevent or lower its intensity. Benchmarks: Knows how disagreements regarding specific issues may arise between people even though the people agree on values or principles in the abstract; Knows sources of political conflict that have arisen in the United States historically as well as in the present; Knows instances in which political conflict in the United States has been divisive and reasons for this division (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Grades 9-12 Historical Understanding Standard 2- Understands the historical perspective. Benchmarks: Analyzes the values held by specific people who influenced history and the role their values played in influencing history; Analyzes the influences specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history and specifies how events might have been different in the absence of those ideas and beliefs; Understand that change and continuity areequally probable and natural; Understands how the past affects our private lives and society in general (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'hu2') Civics Standard 9- Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs, and principles of American constitutional democracy. Benchmarks: Understands the interdependence among certain values and principles; Understands the significance of fundamental values and principles for the individual and society (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Civics Standard 11- Understands the role of diversity in American life and the importance of shared values, political beliefs, and civic beliefs in an increasingly diverse American society. Benchmarks: Knows how the racial, religious, socioeconomic, regional, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of American society has influenced American politics through time; Knows different viewpoints regarding the role and value of diversity in American life; Knows examples of conflicts stemming from diversity,and understands how some conflicts have been managed and why some of them have not yet been successfully resolved; Knows why constitutional values and principles must be adhered to when managing conflicts over diversity; Knows how shared ideas and valuesof American political culture are reflected in various sources and documents (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Civics Standard 13- Understands the character of American political and social conflict and factors that tend to prevent or lower its intensity. Benchmarks: Knows why people may agree on values or principles in the abstract but disagree when they are applied to specific issues; Knows how the concept of a loyal opposition and recourse to the legal system to manage conflicts have helped to lessen the divisiveness of political conflict in the United States (CTSS - 'social', '6-8', 'civ2') Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company /--------------------------advertisement--------------------------\ **SENSATIONAL SUMMER READING** Ah, summer! Sweltering days, cooled down nights, the smell of burgers on a grill, the taste of flavored ices served in paper cones. Discover another treat for the senses in this month's "Bank Street Book Picks." Whatever you do this summer, don't forget your reading material! 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